Oats not only provide slow-release energy but they reduce the oxidative stress of exercise 

Eilish McColgan recently reaffirmed her love of porridge. “It is such a simple and easy breakfast to make,” said the multiple British record-holder. “It keeps those energy levels high and prevents crashing.”

But that’s not all oats can do. Recent evidence suggests they can also banish post-training muscle soreness.

For a study in the journal Antioxidants, sport scientists from the University of Freiburg in Germany described how a group of antioxidants called avenanthramides (AVA), that are unique to oats, reduce the oxidative stress to muscles created when we exercise vigorously, helping to reduce the achiness afterwards.

For their trial, they recruited a group of healthy women and asked half of them to consume a bowl of porridge made with semi-skimmed milk two hours before completing a high intensity training session. The others ate as they normally would pre-workout. All participants completed three sets of squats, lunges, and one-legged heel rises using bodyweight as resistance, maintaining a speed of two seconds up and down for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest between each move.

Blood tests to measure markers of muscle damage were taken at regular intervals pre and post the porridge and exercise, with results showing the oats had a protective effect, reducing inflammation and muscle damage and potentially accelerating recovery after a single workout.

“We already know that oats provide slow-release energy for a sustaining boost,” says Anita Bean, a sports dietitian and author of The Complete Guide To Sports Nutrition (Bloomsbury). “But now we can add the fact that oats reduce the oxidative stress of exercise and protect our muscles which makes porridge or overnight oats perfect pre training or competition foods.”

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